The best drones you can buy in 2021

DJI FPV flying top back

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

DJI FPV rear no battery

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

It used to be that if you wanted a drone, you either chose the DJI Mavic Pro for its compact design, or the iconic Phantom line of drones for their camera capabilities, but many more options exist today. We explore the ins and outs of many drones over on Drone Rush, but let’s just focus on the best of the best for you today.

If you are ready to take to the sky, let’s take a moment to get you the right drone. You may be wanting a toy for in the house, a racer to take to the track, or a superb camera drone to capture photos and video from the sky. There’s a drone or two for all of those tasks. 

Important update from July 2021: All pilots must now get their drone license before they fly!

Best drones you should buy today:

Editor’s note: We will regularly update this list with new and exciting drones as they launch.

People buy and fly drones for a number of reasons, so we’re going to look at the best machines in a number of categories. If these drones do not quite fit your needs, we’ve evaluated hundreds of others on Drone Rush.

1. DJI Inspire 2 with Xenmuse X7 camera

Best professional and camera drone

DJI Inspire 2 on a pedestal at the Cendence remote launch event

The very best of the best professional camera drones allow you to put your professional camera into the sky. They are simply vessels to fly what would otherwise be a handheld camera. The DJI Inspire 2 is an alternative to that, offering its own selection of cameras. Currently, the Zenmuse X7 is the best on offer. This is a 6K camera with interchangeable lenses. Yes, I said 6K video capture. The 24MP Super 35 sensor can shoot in 6K CinemaDNG, 5.2K Apple ProRes, and more. If I kept running down the spec sheet for the camera, you’d think I was talking about a high-end DSLR, and that’s exactly my point. 

The DJI Inspire 2 is easy to fly on its own. It handles and operates very similarly to most other DJI drones. However, the best way to operate it is with two pilots, with one person controlling the craft and the other controlling the camera. It can scoot along at nearly 60mph, stick to the sky for nearly half an hour and is one of the more capable video livestream drones around, perfect for a news crew.

The best of the best has a price tag, the DJI Inspire 2 is $2,999 for a basic flight package, no camera. You’re looking at around $3,100 for the camera, $1,200 each for lenses or combo with the Inspire 2 and Zenmuse X7 camera for around $6,249. Like these drones, the sky is the limit for the Inspire 2 packages, DJI even offers an Inspire 2 Premium package for $14,460, but you’ll still need to add some accessories if you want it all.

DJI Inspire 2 features:

  • Release date: 2016
  • Flight time: 27 minutes
  • Camera: Interchangeable – Best: 6K – 30fps, 24MP Super 35 Sensor
  • Top speed: 58 mph

2. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Best camera drone under $2,000

DJI Mavic 2 Pro front close up on Hasselblad camera

Released in August 2018, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is one of the best camera drones DJI has built. Considering DJI’s status in the industry, we’d say that makes the Mavic 2 Pro one of the best camera drones on the market, period. The Mavic 2 series includes the Mavic 2 Zoom and the Mavic 2 Pro, which only differ in their cameras. The Zoom model offers a 2x optical zoom from its 1/2.3-inch camera sensor and the Pro model rocks a full 1-inch sensor built by Hasselblad. 

The Mavic 2 Pro is one of the best camera drones on the market, period.

We’ve seen some high-end camera blogs complain that the Mavic 2 Pro cannot shoot as high of quality photos and videos as a “proper” Hasselblad camera. All I got from that was the camera on this drone is worthy enough to be compared to cameras that cost thousands of dollars. It isn’t as good as those high-end machines, but it’s still quite good.

As for the drone itself, the Mavic 2 Pro is one of the fastest, most stable, and most agile camera-focused machines we’ve flown. The multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors make it one of the safest drones we’ve flown as well. Don’t let the name fool you, a beginner can put the Mavic 2 Pro into the sky with great success. It offers a great selection of self-piloted flight modes to help get the best shots. On the flip side, experienced pilots can take manual control of the craft and really push the camera to new heights. 

Read next: DJI Mavic 2 Pro camera review

Check out the DJI Mavic 2 Pro for $1,449, our links here are to a $1,849 combo with the Fly More kit. Grab the Mavic 2 Fly More Kit for $323 to get extra batteries, accessories, and more. If the Mavic 2 Zoom for $1,245 is more your style, grab that instead. (Note: Prices on Amazon may be higher than initial launch prices for this drone.)

DJI Mavic 2 Pro features:

  • Release date: 2018
  • Flight time: 31 minutes
  • Camera: 4K – 30fps, 20MP
  • Top speed: 44 mph

3. Skydio 2

Best self-flying drone

Skydio 2 launch pad

The successor to the powerful Skydio R1, the Skydio 2 is perhaps the most advanced self-flying drone available in the consumer market. Powerful processing, matched with all-direction obstacle avoidance sensors and pathing AI, allow the Skydio 2 to navigate places that most drones would either avoid or crash. 4K video recording and decent flight time round out a solid drone experience. 

Learn more about the Skydio 2 over on Drone Rush.

Hubsan H111 features:

  • Release date: 2019
  • Flight time: 23 minutes
  • Camera: 4K – 60fps
  • Top speed: 36 mph

4. DJI Air 2S

Best 5.4K camera drone

DJI Mavic Air 2 folded

Launched in April, 2021, the DJI Air 2S was a welcome upgrade to a popular series of drones. Not just an update from the Mavic Air and Mavic Air 2 previous, but a fresh touch for the Mavic line entirely. The Air 2S rocks a 20MP camera with a 1-inch sensor. The first time we’ve seen this size of camera on a drone this small, and at this low of a price point. The camera shoots up to 5.4K video, offers up to 8X zoom, has an amazing 7.5 mile connectivity range, and includes all new flight features that they borrowed from the Osmo Pocket cameras.

Check out the DJI Air 2S from $999 for the drone alone, or bump up to the DJI Air 2S Fly More combo for $1,299 to get extra batteries, accessories, and more.

DJI Air 2S features:

  • Release date: 2021
  • Flight time: 31 minutes
  • Camera: 5.4K – 30fps, 4K – 60fps, 20MP
  • Top speed: 42.5 mph

5. DJI Mini 2

Best compact camera drone

DJI Mavic Mini outside from angle 3

Introduced in the fall of 2020, the DJI Mini 2 is the powerful update to the Mavic Mini from last year. Nearly identical in form and function, the newer Mini 2 offers an updated 4K camera, a vastly improved video data rate, more powerful motors, and Ocusync connectivity. The result of the updates is a faster, stronger mini drone that can fly further, take better photos, shoot much better videos, and stay airborne for longer.

Related reading: DJI Mini 2 review

The DJI Mini 2 costs $449. You can upgrade to the DJI Mini 2 Fly More combo for $599 to get extra batteries, a charging hub, propeller guards and more.

DJI Mavic Mini 2 features:

  • Release date: 2020
  • Flight time: 31 minutes
  • Camera: 4K, 12MP
  • Top speed: 36 mph


Best cross-over camera-racing drone

DJI FPV rear no battery

Jonathan Feist / Android Authority

DJI started off 2021 with a new machine that slightly re-invents the way you fly. To be fair, there’s nothing really new about the DJI FPV except that it combines the best of a camera drone with the thrill of a racing drone. Controlling the machine can be managed as if the FPV were a camera drone, jump up to sport mode to get a tease of what it’s like to fly a racing drone, then go full manual to really fly this new machine. Adding to the thrill, the DJI FPV clocks along at up to 87 mph, comes with the DJI FPV Goggles V2, a VR headset, and there’s an optional new one-handed Motion Controller. 

DJI Mavic Air 2 folded

The original DJI Mavic Air was a useful drone that was superb for portability. The newer Mavic 2 series drones offer some fantastic cameras and flight features. What if we combined the two? The result would be the DJI Mavic Air 2. 

The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the halfway point in between the Mavic Mini and the Mavic 2 Zoom in almost every way. The size and price are right in between, but the camera is a step above. That’s right, aside from the Mavic 2 Pro and larger drones, the Mavic Air 2 has the largest camera sensor of all DJI consumer drones. The 48MP, 1/2-inch sensor shoots 12MP pixel-binned images, with HDR and 4K video captured at 60fps and a 120Mbps data rate. If that means nothing to you, how about we say that the camera is very good. The very best images and video we’ve captured from the sky from a drone that costs less than $1,200.

Check out the DJI Mavic Air 2 from $699 for the drone alone, or bump up to the DJI Mavic Air 2 Fly More combo for $988 to get extra batteries, accessories, and more.

DJI Mavic Air 2 features:

  • Release date: 2020
  • Flight time: 34 minutes
  • Camera: 4K – 60fps, 48MP
  • Top speed: 42.5 mph

8. DJI Mavic Mini

Most affordable camera drone

DJI Mavic Mini review folded side aa

Introduced in the fall of 2019, the DJI Mavic Mini is so compact that it does not need to be registered in many countries. Weighing in at 249 grams, or 0.548 pounds, it is exempt from FAA registration, however, it’s still a drone, you still have to follow the rules in the sky. Despite its size, the Mavic Mini packs a 3-axis stabilized 12MP, 2.7K camera, thirty minute flight time, and GPS-enabled flight features such as RTH and more. If you were looking to get smartphone-quality camera shots from the sky, the Mavic Mini is one of the best options you’ll find today.

The DJI Mavic Mini costs just $399. You can upgrade to the DJI Mavic Mini Fly More combo for $499 to get extra batteries, a charging hub, propeller guards and more.

DJI Mavic Mini features:

  • Release date: 2019
  • Flight time: 30 minutes
  • Camera: 2.7K, 12MP
  • Top speed: 29 mph

9. Syma X5C-1

Best toy drone, a resilient trainer

We firmly believe every aspiring drone pilot should start with a drone like the Syma X5C. This toy-class drone has limited functionality, but it is true to the piloting experience of more expensive drones. Flying this machine will help you master the basics of flight, understanding which way is forward and managing to hit the video record button at the right time in that flight. Crashing is almost inevitable, but would you rather learn how to handle crashes on a machine worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, or a resilient and fun Syma X5C?

Syma X5C features:

  • Release date: 2015
  • Flight time: 10 minutes
  • Camera: 720p
  • Top speed: 11 mph

10. Hubsan H111

Best Nano drone for flying indoors

Hubsan H111 nano drone with Android figure

There’s no single category for small drones, but we generally consider any machine that can fit in the palm of your hand to be a nano drone. One of our absolute favorites is the Hubsan H111. We respect Hubsan as a brand, we have many of their larger drones in various other categories on the site, but the H111 is one of the easiest machines to get your hands on, and safest to fly indoors.

Make no mistake, this is a toy drone. It has limited battery life and minimal flight capabilities compared to more advanced machines, but it lives on my desk and flies frequently. It’s challenging enough to hone my piloting skills, and super fun. It’s also priced right to be a great gift.

Hubsan H111 features:

  • Release date: 2014
  • Flight time: 5 minutes
  • Camera: No camera
  • Top speed: 7 mph

Special note

Our list here today is designed to take you on your drone journey. The plain truth is that the very best of the best drones have prices that start at over $150,000. There are many great drones on the market, and we hope you forgive us for making our list today reflect the best machines you should consider for a reasonable consumer-electronics price tag.

Above article first published by . We curated and re-published.

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